USB CODECs Feature Audiophile DACs

ESS Technology’s latest USB Low-Power Audiophile CODECs feature QUAD DAC technology. Intended for use in headsets and audio adaptors, the CODECs can support end-to-end audiophile quality. 


The family is built around a low-power USB controller that supports USB 1.1 and 2.0 and can handle audio data rates up to 32-bit 384-kHz PCM.  It relies on a SABRE DAC audio converter with HyperStream II modulation that provides a stable sound field. The integrated headphone amp delivers up to 2-Vrms output voltage. 

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The parts also include all the needed blocks to make designing a USB audio system simple, including jack detect, button detection, and GPIO inputs/outputs for custom buttons or switches.  Reference designs are available for USB-C audio adaptors and USB-C headsets, and the parts can be easily customized using external EEPROM.


The ES9281PRO is the flagship of the CODECs and can provide best-in-class audio performance at 124 dB DNR and -112 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N).


It is touted as the first USB product to offer an integrated hardware Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) renderer. Reportedly, MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as the standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms. 


The ES9280PRO offers the same impressive audiophile features as the ES9281PRO but without the MQA rendering. Both products feature a wide range of additional input formats beyond USB.  In addition to the standard microphone support, they feature stereo line input and 8-channel I2S, allowing it to act as USB audio bridge for desktop audio player applications.


The third product in the line, The ES9270, offers a streamlined solution focused on creating high-quality headsets and dongles.  The ES9270 can provide 117 dB DNR and -110 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N) and features the same low-power audio controller as the flagship, without the ASP or I2S bridge.  These parts are ideal for mainstream USB-C headsets and adaptors that still want great sound.


Samples, evaluation boards, and reference designs are available now for all three parts.  For more information, visit ESS Technology.


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